DATE: May 19, 2008
Hampden Going Strong
The "Awesome MCAS" with (left to right) Meghan Smith-Epaul, Sara Trecker, Casey Simon-Plumb, Abigail Hinkamper, took first place honors. The team was sponsored by Dr. Jon Trecker, DDS.
Hundreds of people of all ages turned out for the “Are you Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” benefit for Hampden Free Public Library. Ticket sales to the event were so brisk that the venue was moved from the library to an elementary school gymnasium big enough to hold the crowd. “It’s great to see this kind of support for the library,” said Patty Ehlers, President of the Friends of Hampden Free Public Library who organized the event.
Ms. Ehlers opened the event with a few simple comments, “Promise me that this library will never close again, except for Sundays,” she stated as the audience cheered. With such excitement and support, it’s difficult to imagine that this much-loved library had the dubious distinction of being the first library in the country to close and stay closed for over six months.
Edd Linger (left) and Bill Frey formed the "Fox Valley Gearheads" who came in second place.
In the 2005 the library was forced to close its doors for almost a year when the town voted down an override that would have provided library funding. It’s something that Hampden residents still talk about, “It was horrible,” stated one resident. Another resident and mother of two girls Susanne Simon stated, “My daughter was devastated when the library closed. She made two quilts, raffled them off and gave the money to the library trustees. She’d live at the library if she could. She loves going online to reserve her books.” Ceci Melville, Friends board member and retired librarian added, “I know a lot of towns have fiscal problems, but closing a library should never happen.” “You loose so much.”
"Henri's Hi-Brows" tied for fourth place with the "Winning Wizards" behind the third place "3 Men & a Lady"
Even local celebrity, Henri the yellow lab, showed his support for libraries by sponsoring a team that included Judge Bob Howarth, DEA Agent Tina Murphy, Dr. Cynthia Galavoti , and Bart Lipinksi who is a college professor. Board of Selectman Chair John D. Flynn, was part of the “Einstein Team.” Seventeen teams, with members of all ages and from all walks of life, competed for over $2,000 in donated prizes; but as Patty pointed out, “We’re all winners tonight because we have a strong library.”
The event, which was dedicated to local educator Mrs. Linda Brannigan in celebration of her love of books and learning, raised over $2,500 for the Hampden Free Public Library. It was made possible through efforts of the Friends of the Hampden Free Library, Hampden Free Public Library Board of Trustees, local volunteers, and sponsors.